A thought: In the rubrics of the Missal, would you agree that a change in a word signifies a change in action? Looking at the prayers that the priest says that are not directed to the congregation, I noticed a change. Three weeks ago, those prayers were to be said “inaudibly.”
Now, those prayers are to be said “quietly.” (Third typical edition) This includes at the Offertory (“With humble spirit…”), before the Agnus Dei (“May the mingling…”) and several times after the Agnus Dei. To me, a change of word does mean a change of action; otherwise, the rubrics would have kept the word “inaudible” as the direction to be followed. And clearly, “inaudible” is not equivalent to “quietly.”
Having said these words quietly now for two weeks, I find that when I say them quietly, I say each word…and with more reverence. And here is another point. The Latin-English Missals I used when growing up had the translations for ALL the words that the priest said at Mass; I have not found any Missal”ette” that has ever informed the congregation of these inaudible prayers that the priest prays at Mass…I thought one of the purposes of the vernacular Mass was to better inform those present what was happening at the Mass. I wonder why these prayers were never provided to the faithful…So, a question: is it proper for the priest to now say the formerly “inaudible” prayers in a quiet voice that could therefore actually be heard by altar boys and the first pew of congregants?
A good question. You are very observant! Thanks for Saying the Black and Doing the Red!
We must consider what the rubrics say in the Latin edition. The priest is at times to say prayers “secreto” or as it is rendered at times “in a low voice”. Parts to which servers must reply are to be just loud enough, in a subdued voice, to be audible to them.
In the Extraordinary Form there were two levels of voice. At Low Mass the priest would either say texts aloud so that all could hear or softly, as in a whisper so that the priest himself can hear but not others. At a Solemn Mass much is sung, so, obviously, those texts are heard by all. Other parts are with clara voce (aloud), or secreto (softly). Parts to which servers must reply are to be in a subdued voice just loud enough to be audible to them.
I think we could take our cue from the way this was always done in the past, in our Latin, Roman tradition.
Certain texts requiring responses are addressed to the people and servers. They should be audible to all who are to respond. The other prayers, which the priest says on his own and which are not directed to people for a response, should be in the low voice, secreto as the Latin says. Sometimes there is music during the offertory when the priest says prayers that need a response. I would use a subdued voice so that a server/deacon nearby could respond, without necessarily being audible to the congregation over and against the music.
In my opinion, we should with the Novus Ordo, Ordinary Form, recapture something of the fact that, often, the priest is not talking to the congregation all the time.
Perhaps some priests will jump in with helpful observations.